Backdating a check
— A Wake County judge on Tuesday sentenced a former Raleigh defense attorney to 12 to 34 months in prison on charges that he altered court records relating to dozens of DWI convictions in an effort to lessen driving penalties for his clients.
James Crouch pleaded guilty last month to charges that he backdated convictions in an effort to shorten or eliminate license suspensions in approximately 50 driving while impaired cases from May 2008 to April 2012.
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The sentence, handed down by Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway, was the harshest possible under state sentencing guidelines."The offenses for which I have imposed judgment erode the trust and integrity that is so important to our system of justice," Ridgeway said.
"It is now the task of each of us to redouble our efforts to repair that damage, to recommit ourselves to the administration of true justice and to fully restore the confidence and trust of the citizens of our court.”A long-time Raleigh attorney whose practice handled more than 2,000 cases each year, Crouch was also disbarred as part of his plea deal with prosecutors."I stand before you, judge, a man who's been disgraced, humiliated and had stripped away from my soul any dignity that I've earned in my life," Crouch told Ridgeway before sentencing.
She was among a number of people Crouch apologized to Tuesday."I know more than anyone that I do apologize to this court, and first and foremost, to Judge Ruth," he said. The consequences to her, I feel responsible for, and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life.
I hope, at some point in her life, that she will forgive me."But District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Ruth, a highly respected judge who had the potential to go on to the state Court of Appeals or state Supreme Court, was not the only victim of the crime.